Full disclosure: I have nothing against multiple all-conference basketball teams from the same league, for allowing players to be recognized by as many groups as possible for a job well done on the court over a season.
It’s a big deal to the kid and his family and his team.
But how it reached the point of Mountain West players being honored by both coaches and media this year depicts a larger issue within the framework of how some all-league teams are formed.
And in the case of the Mountain West, it points directly to coaches who want things both ways.
It points directly to their hypocrisy.
The primary beat writers from Mountain West markets released their all-conference selections Sunday, and there were no surprises when it came to major awards. Boise State deservedly swept Coach of the Year (Leon Rice), Player of the Year (Derrick Marks) and Newcomer of the Year (James Webb III).
All good choices.
All legitimate selections.
The league is expected to announce its all-conference team today, one chosen only by head coaches because a majority of them voted last spring to eliminate media from the process.
Because for all their big talk about the need to have transparency in things like rules and officiating and selecting a venue for the conference tournament, Mountain West coaches are scared to death to let anyone know which of their players they nominate for awards and for which across the conference they cast votes.
That means they are very much like all coaches in that they don’t want for a second to give an opposing player added incentive or deal with any negative feedback that might arise from their own team or opposing ones.
This isn’t to suggest media people know more about basketball than coaches.
But it’s absolutely true media people know more about transparency.
In this realm, whose all-conference team should be trusted more?
Hint: Not the one voted on by coaches.
Mountain West writers made their ballots public. They put their names and choices out there for all to see.
The coaches won’t, or at least haven’t in all past Mountain West seasons.
The beat writers weren’t even officially made aware of being cut out of the process by coaches for the first time in 12 years until one reporter asked a league official to confirm the change a few weeks ago.
Why is that, by the way?
Did the conference believe writers wouldn’t notice a ballot hadn’t arrived in their email the past several days?
Coaches are an unambiguous lot. There is less mystery to them than a married couple celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary.
What often happens when it comes to the individual awards in these all-conference picks is this: You can’t vote for your own player and yet believe voting for the other obvious leading candidate will damage your guy’s chances, so you cast support for a third and often undeserving kid.
The outcome can be something like this: Joseph Young of Oregon was named Pac-12 Player of the Year on Monday over Delon Wright of Utah, about as preposterous a conclusion as you will find among major college all-conference selections this season. Young led the conference in scoring and is a fine player, but to believe there was no attempt at manipulating the vote by some coaches (media from the Pac-12 also don’t vote) that produced such a silly result is beyond naive.
It doesn’t happen every year. I’m guessing those all-league picks by Mountain West coaches released today will closely resemble those of the media. But if it’s truly all about the players — a line coaches and school officials like to use often — then why didn’t all 11 league schools release statements Sunday or Monday about the all-conference media team?
Why did a school such as Boise State, so well represented on the team as a co-champion, not as of late Monday afternoon have one word about it on its website?
Why would the Broncos email and tweet news that its men’s basketball team had been ranked for the first time in the Associated Press Top 25 (a media poll) and also post a detailed release on the all-conference women’s team (voted on only by coaches) but completely disregard the all-conference media men’s team?
Here’s why: Because it’s not always about what’s best for the membership, as Mountain West officials insist. It’s not always about the kids. It’s about whatever agenda suits those promoting it on a given day.
It’s about politics and hypocrisy and a favored school (Boise State) of the Mountain West office supporting the same entity that gave it such a sweetheart deal in terms of football television revenue.
It’s about everything except the one thing coaches always claim to covet most: transparency.
There are two separate all-conference men’s basketball teams in the Mountain West this year, and that’s not a bad thing. The more recognition for kids, the better.
But how it reached that point is a different story.
And, when it comes to how coaches often handle their business and how they are blindly supported by their conference, an old one.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 100.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.